368p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jul. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062561657.
Gr 4–7—Just after his 13th birthday, T'Shawn must rearrange his life when his older brother, Lamont, returns home to the south side of Chicago from prison. Fortunately, T finds focus through his dive team as he strives to keep his scholarship and excel at the sport. Friendships, family, and community support help T through the rough times in this absorbing and powerful tale. The characters are complex and compelling, with even minor characters evidencing a mixture of both positive and negative emotions and actions. Reminiscent of Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk, Binns's novel focuses on a number of intersecting concerns such as racism, police brutality, economic inequity, health care costs, gangs, incarceration, and recidivism. Though the perspective is completely appropriate for children—and perhaps all too familiar to many—the two scenes featuring police brutality display realistic violence; readers may benefit from a mediated exploration of their feelings and frustrations in reaction to the scenes described. While the optimistic conclusion might not be particularly satisfying for more mature or experienced readers, it will be satisfying for many younger readers and it pivots on the themes of forgiveness and second chances.
VERDICT An auspicious debut and a compelling read that will prompt important discussions about police brutality, racism, and economic inequity.

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